Local and differential control of vegetative storage protein expression in response to herbivore damage in Arabidopsis thaliana
Vegetative storage proteins (VSPs) are thought to fulfil important nutritional roles during plant development and stress adaptation. Plant responses to mechanical wounding and herbivore damage include an activation of VSP expression. It was recently suggested that vsp is part of the systemic response of Arabidopsis to wounding. To test this proposal, we monitored the spatial regulation of vsp mRNAs and VSP proteins. Arabidopsis contains two vsp genes and real-time quantitative PCR allowed us to characterize their differential expression. The ratio of vsp1 to vsp2 mRNA abundance increased when plants were challenged with diamondback moth larvae or Egyptian cotton worms, but not when they were mechanically wounded. We observed a dramatic increase of vsp1 and vsp2 mRNA as well as VSP protein levels in leaves that experienced herbivore damage. By contrast, there was a relatively minor increase of vsp mRNA and VSP protein levels in undamaged leaves of infested plants. These results clearly demonstrate that VSPs are part of the local plant response to herbivore attack. To obtain additional information on vsp regulation, we analysed a fusion of a soybean vspB promoter fragment to the β-glucuronidase gene in transgenic Arabidopsis plants. The vspB promoter responded to both jasmonate and herbivore treatments, suggesting that similar signals regulate its expression in both plant species.